In to the Field for a Study

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An intriguing aspect of joining the Asia Pacific Leadership Program was the two-week NE Asia Field Study in October. After two months learning here at the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, the time has come to head off and hit the road with some of my Generation 11 cohorts from about 10 countries.

The intent of the field study is to:

  • deepen G11 group relations off campus
  • expand the EWC’s international network
  • activate and deepen our learnings from campus and further develop competencies

This is the first time a cohort has gone to two countries during Field Study and I’m pumped for both locations. We depart Honolulu on

Most of the G11 cohort

October 13 and touch-down in Tokyo on the evening of October 14. We’re there for six full days during which time we’ll attend meetings with EWC alumni, meet government ministers, have a conference about the post 3/11 Triple Disaster and of course eat some sushi at Japan’s largest fresh fish market. One of our professors, Nick Barker spent six months last year living and working in the city so he’ll no doubt have a unique perspective to share with us.

Then it’s off to China on the afternoon of October 20th and straight to the Great Wall. Here we’ll enjoy sundown and stay at a farmhouse right next to the wall. The next morning we’ll take a three-hour hike atop the wall then we’re sent out in teams of three to spend three days in small, quiet, rural towns with virtually no tourists to investigate/observe some element of Chinese life and report on it. The teams and tasks will be revealed the night before. Our final four days are in Beijing proper meeting government officials, attending EWC Alumni dinners and taking in as much of the capital as possible.

My primary field study goals are to observe leadership styles and group dynamics within the G11 group and get a sense of the Chinese pulse of ordinary citizens.

My travel style due to my work with Smiling Albino is usually to be very prepared and highly knowledgeable about the plan, the areas I’m visiting and to be in control. This trip I am going to do some pre-reading but enjoy the experience from a slightly, but deliberately, semi-uninformed perspective, letting events and days unfold naturally and let others lead the way most of the time.

I’m particularly interested in seeing how our instructors lead the group, deal with people being late, plans not unfolding as expected and their response to these.

Very interested in seeing the group dynamics of the G11 cohort, who takes the lead, how decisions are made, when tempers flare, why and how they are resolved. There will certainly be multiple moments of adaptive leadership in action.

During my time in China and particularly during the three-day group village study I’m interested in speaking with ordinary Chinese and gaining an understanding for their lives and whether they feel they’re improving. Not just improving, but is their standard of living rising and their access to opportunities on-par with other ordinary Chinese? Finally, where do they see China in 10, 15 and 20 years?

Thoughts about the trip will follow in the coming weeks after I’m back in Honolulu on October 29th.

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